With former Clovis West High School standouts Sarah Snyder and Mary Brooks off to college careers, it was Ally Clague’s time to lead the most successful girls water polo program in Central Section history.
And the UC Davis-bound Clague answered the challenge for the Golden Eagles.
Clague blossomed into an offensive force as Snyder (now at UC Santa Barbara) and Brooks (UC Irvine) had been while leading Clovis West to a share of the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and a record-extending 13th section championship.
“It was a little scary – I’ve never had that kind of pressure on me,” Clague said. “But I didn’t buckle under it because I wanted to do well for everyone on my team.
“In the past, I’d seen Mary and Sarah do it, and I drew inspiration from them. They just played the game rather than overthinking, and that was my downfall in the past.”
It was a little scary. I’ve never had that kind of pressure on me. But I didn’t buckle under it because I wanted to do well for everyone on my team.
Clovis West’s Ally Clague, The Bee’s Girls Water Polo Player of the Year
Clague delivered a team-leading 78 goals – including one in second-seeded Clovis West’s 9-7 victory over No. 1 and defending champion Clovis in the section Division I final – while contributing 38 assists, 44 steals and 68 ejections drawn for a Golden Eagles team that finished 21-10.
Clague is The Fresno Bee’s Player of the Year.
“She kind of came into her own this year,” Golden Eagles coach Scott Torosian said. “She was always someone I felt had potential to be (an offensive force.) She just really embraced the role of being a senior and wanting to win games for her team.”
Before her senior season, Clague played a complementary role offensively to Snyder (The Bee’s Outstanding Offensive Performer in 2015 and Player of the Year in 2014) and Brooks (Player of the Year in 2013) while focusing on being one of Clovis West’s top defenders.
Clague excelled at both ends of the pool this season, however, scoring through or dishing off from double- and triple-teaming offensively while playing shutdown defense when needed en route to being named the MVP of the TRAC.
“With girls water polo, you will find girls who play great defense but not offense,” Torosian said. “But she’s always been capable of playing great offense, too. She’s right there with Sarah Snyder or Mary Brooks. It just took her a little longer to get to that point in the game.”
She kind of came into her own this year. She was always someone I felt had potential to be (an offensive force.) She just really embraced the role of being a senior and wanting to win games for her team.
Clovis West coach Scott Torosian, on Ally Clague, who led the Golden Eagles to the Central Section Division I girls water polo championship
The torch from Snyder, who graduated in 2016, to Clague was passed during Clovis West’s summer program, when Clague began to assert herself more offensively. Torosian said he didn’t have to say much to Clague – she understood the expectation to shoulder more of the load and knew she’d be the focal point of opposing defenses.
Clague, who took up water polo in the eighth grade after primarily being a basketball player, began to feel comfortable in her new role after a five-goal performance during an 8-7 overtime victory over rival Clovis on Oct. 10.
“That was a turning point in my season,” Clague said. “I was really nervous going into that game. They always have a strong team, and this year an exceptionally strong team. To be able to score like that and pull out a win, that was a confidence boost for myself and everyone on the team.”
Outstanding Offensive Performer
School: El Diamante
She’s qualified because: Huskey was the driving force behind the Miners’ march to the fourth Central Section title in school history. She capped a 101-goal season (3.5 per game) with seven in El Diamante’s 10-4 victory over Visalia rival Redwood in the Division II final. Huskey, who converted 53 percent of her 190 shots, also contributed 60 steals, 34 assists and 27 ejections drawn and earned All-Valley D-II and West Yosemite League MVP honors. Huskey finished with a combined 15 goals, eight steals and five assists during the Miners’ three playoff games. She also helped El Diamante (28-3) win titles at the Tulare and Sunnyside tournaments and capture a share of the WYL crown. Huskey is being recruited by Cal State Monterey Bay, Long Beach State, Fresno State and San Diego State.
Outstanding Defensive Performer
School: Clovis West
She’s qualified because: Clovis West coach Scott Torosian said Loggins’ performance on the defensive end allowed the Golden Eagles to win a share of the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and their record-extending 13th Central Section crown. The Fresno State-bound Loggins, a four-year varsity player, was assigned to guard future Bulldogs teammate Callie Woodruff in the Division I final and limited her to four goals, including none in the fourth quarter, as the Golden Eagles rallied past defending champion Clovis 9-7. The All-Valley D-I MVP also contributed three goals in the final. Loggins finished with 38 goals, 17 assists, 35 steals and 37 ejections drawn and earned first-team All-TRAC honors.
Coach of the Year
School: El Diamante
He’s qualified because: In his second season as head coach, Young guided El Diamante to the school’s fourth Central Section championship and first since 2009. The top-seeded Miners capped a 28-3 season with a 10-4 victory over Visalia rival and No. 3 Redwood in the Division II final. El Diamante’s postseason run also included a 14-5 defeat of No. 9 Tulare in the quarterfinals and a 10-7 victory over defending division champion and No. 5 Golden West in the semifinals. Young, a 2003 graduate of Golden West who played under 2015 Bee Boys Coach of the Year Rick Nordell, also directed the Miners to titles at the Tulare and Sunnyside tournaments and a share of the West Yosemite League crown.
Girls Water Polo All-Stars
- Madison Bower, junior, Strathmore
- McKenzie Buller, senior, Kingsburg
- Adie Collard, senior, Clovis
- Jessica Diaz, senior, Madera
- Lilian Dinis, senior, Mt. Whitney
- Hannah Duggins, senior, Clovis West
- Hailey Dyer, junior, Edison
- Savannah Fitzgerald, senior, Clovis North
- Skylar Ford, freshman, Redwood
- Jessica Gade, junior, Buchanan
- Bianca Gonzalez, senior, Selma
- Veronica Harris, senior, Golden West
- Madison Jacquez, senior, Hanford West
- Kylee Jansen, junior, Bullard
- Maci Layne, senior, Sanger
- Letty Leal, senior, Sunnyside
- Emily Milton, senior, Reedley
- Allie Negus, senior, Porterville
- Georgia Phillips, junior, Clovis North
- Shanti Reisinger, senior, Exeter
- Mckenna Schroder, senior, Hanford
- Caitlyn Snyder, junior, Clovis West
- Trystyn Vuori, senior, Clovis
- Aleah Watkins, senioir, Clovis East
- Callie Woodruff, senior, Clovis